Consultation: taxes & charges have important role to play in tackling plastic pollution scourge

Ministers must aim to phase-out all but the safest and most essential plastics
  13 Mar 2018    |      3 min

Responding to the Chancellor’s public consultation, launched today, on how changes to the tax system or charges could be used to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we waste, Friends of the Earth plastics-free campaigner Julian Kirby said:

“Taxes and charges have an important role to play in tackling the scourge of plastic waste, but this must be part of a wider government plan to phase-out all but the safest and most essential plastics.

“Single-use plastics like coffee-cup lids and drinks bottles should be amongst the easiest to deal with, so it makes sense to target these first.

“We can’t afford to dither. We are in the midst of an environmental crisis, with a huge range of products including clothes, suncream, paints and tyres contributing to millions of tonnes of plastic that pollutes our oceans every year.

“Ministers must get tough on plastic pollution - and the companies who are responsible for creating this mess paying should be playing a much greater part in undoing the damage they’ve already caused.”

Notes to editors:

1. Tackling the plastic problem | Treasury consultation.

2. Friends of the Earth is urging the government to introduce a number of measures including: • Shifting tax and other financial pressures on to producers (manufacturers and retailers) • Making plastic manufacturers contribute far more to the cost of recycling and cleaning up plastic waste and pollution See 3, below). • a tax on the use of virgin plastic to reduce overall use and incentivise the use of recycled materials where plastic is currently essential • a ‘latte levy’ charge on single-use, plastic-lined cups to discourage their use • a bottle deposit scheme to encourage bottles to be returned and either refilled or recycled.

3. “Whereas in other countries, household recycling services may be fully funded by the producers under the producer responsibility scheme, in the UK, the producers bear something of the order 10% of these costs.1 Local authorities, the main collectors of household waste, barely benefit from the existence of the scheme at all.”: http://www.eunomia.co.uk/reports-tools/plastic-packaging-shedding-light-on-the-uk-data/

4. The Chancellor's interest in reducing plastic waste and pollution is extremely welcome, but his colleagues consulted broadly on how to improve England and the UK’s approach to waste management back in 2010/11 with the Waste Review, and Defra colleagues produced an excellent ‘Economics of Waste’ document. Unfortunately the recommendations were not acted on.